Nigel Ely - with Saddam's bum...
 In this blogposting…
* Herefordshire Life
* One-Liners
* The Tree of Ténéré
Proceed with caution….

I’ve just spent a blissful 3 days with my old friend Sue; those with particularly long memories may remember her voice on The Nightshift occasionally.

Sue lives in a small village a few miles outside Hereford, deep in the ‘cider vales’ of the Welsh marches.  Life is observably slower there and the priorities of the locals are markedly at odds with the outside world.

To give you a flavour of what counts as News thereabouts, Sue has kindly given me permission to reproduce the following cuttings she took from The Hereford Times last week…

A man tried to steal a gammon joint from a Hereford supermarket buy hiding it down his trousers, a court heard.

Hereford magistrates were told how 44-year-old Michael Mason attempted to take the meat, worth £11, from Sainsbury’s store on New Year’s Day.  Mason, from Bobblestock, admitted theft.

‘My benefits had not gone into my account’ he said.  ‘I am sorry.’

He was fined £25 and ordered to pay Sainsbury’s £11 compensation….

Visitors to Ledbury are still being directed to the town’s old Tourist Information Centre (TIC) - nine months after it moved.

The deputy mayor has asked why no signage is in place to direct visitors to the new TIC in The Homend.  A fingerpost directs tourists to the old TIC premises at St Katherine’s council offices but no sign points to the IceBytes Café where the TIC is now located.

The deputy mayor has been told that lack of funds is the reason for the delay.
Ledbury Tourist Information Office
A public meeting to discuss Ledbury’s plans for the Queen’s diamond jubilee was attended by just seven people.

Mayor Allen Conway said, after the meagre turnout at the Burgage Hall, that he had hoped for a room full of people - but there were more councillors than members of the public.  He had put out 50 chairs.

One of the people who did attend was James Barnes, who suggested raising a public subscription, with every man, woman and child in Ledbury contributing £1.  This would raise £10,000.

This is a letter to the editor from Kevin Kimber and Douby Evans, of Foley Street, Hereford…

‘Can I ask if anyone has seen our stream?

The Eign Brook, as we fondly knew her, went missing last summer and has not been seen since.

The Wye is high, the Meadows are flooded - but the poor Eign Brook is a parched desert.

This wildlife corridor - home to mammals, fish and countless birds (including kingfishers) - has disappeared without trace.

The council knows nothing and the Environment Agency has told me that it’s not its responsibility.

We’re told that the new flood defence scheme is not a factor.  Well, in that case, what is?

A local cat had bad luck on Friday 13th.

The moggy was definitely not feline fine when it got its head stuck behind a fridge in Ross-on-Wye.

Firefighters had to be called to the rescue at The Mead in Hildersley at 0715.

Saddam Hussein’s bronze buttock could result in an ex-SAS man being arrested.

Nigel Ely used a hammer and a crowbar to smash the memento from a statue of the former despot that was toppled when Iraq was liberated in 2003.

The soldier - known as ‘Spud’ - managed to sneak it out of the country by saying it was vehicle armour and paid £385 excess baggage to get it to the UK, since when he has kept it at his home in Preston-on-Wye.

But now the Iraqi government is claiming it is part of the country’s ‘antiquity’ and wants it back.

Nigel is the co-founder of ‘Trebletap’, a specialist company that promotes ‘war relic art’.  He claims that Saddam’s bum is now a work of art.

‘I will carry on the fight’ he says.

Herefordshire County Council has been warned to be a little more careful in its use of the internet after ‘a day of fun and entertainment for the whole family’ was advertised as ‘It’s a Kockout’.

And finally, from the What’s On listings…

Staunton-on-Wye - - - - Mouse Racing Night.


Here’s another fine collection of one-liners sent to me by Dave Shannon.  But be warned - almost all of them are politically incorrect.

I got invited to a party and was told to dress to kill.  Apparently a turban, beard and a backpack wasn’t what they had in mind.

After a night of drink, drugs and wild sex, I woke up to find himself next to a really ugly woman.  That’s when I realised I had made it home safely.

My mate just hired an Eastern European cleaner; it took her 5 hours to hoover the house.  Turns out she was a Slovak.

Since the snow came all my wife has done is look through the window.  If it gets any worse, I’ll have to let her in.

I came home one day early in December to find all my doors and windows smashed in and everything gone.  What sort of sick person does that to someone’s advent calendar…?

I’ve been charged with murder for killing a man with sandpaper.  To be honest I only intended to rough him up a bit.

After years of research, scientists have discovered what makes women happy.  Nothing.

A lad comes home from school and excitedly tells his dad that he had a part in the school play - he was playing a man who had been married for 25 years.  His dad says ‘Never mind son, maybe next year you’ll get a speaking part.’
Just had my water bill of £175 drop on my mat.  That’s rather a lot.  Apparently Oxfam can supply a whole African village for just £2 a month.  Time to change supplier I think.

Two women called at my door and asked what bread I ate, and when I said white they gave me a 30-minute lecture on the benefits of brown bread…. I think they were Hovis Witnesses.


This rather bedraggled and gnarled organism - which, under normal circumstances, would probably not even be worth ignoring - has a very special claim to fame.  It was the most isolated tree on Earth, and thus impossible to ignore.

The ‘Tree of Ténéré’ was a single determined acacia that grew alone for decades in the Sahara desert in north-east Niger.  There were no other trees for more than 400 kilometres in any direction; it was the only tree to appear on maps of the area, even at a scale of 1:4,000,000.

In 1939 a French commandant wrote in his diary ‘What is its secret?  How can it still be living in spite of the multitude of camels which trample at its sides?  How at each azalai does not a lost camel eat its leaves and thorns?  Why don’t the numerous Touareg leading the salt caravans cut its branches to make fires to brew their tea?  The only answer is that the tree is taboo and considered as such by the caravaniers. … The acacia has become a living lighthouse; it is the first or the last landmark for the azalai leaving Agadez for Bilma, or returning.’

You’ll have noticed my use of the past tense.  What could have brought down such an exalted spirit?  Incredibly, it was hit by a truck. Twice.

The first instance, in which a lorry headed for Bilma detached one of its two trunks, happened (apparently) in the 1950s.  But the noble tree struggled on for 20 more years until it was knocked down by an allegedly drunk Libyan driver in 1973.

The dead tree was taken to the Niger National Museum in Niamey.  It’s been replaced by what Nigerans call ‘a simple metal sculpture’.  The aptness and aesthetic merits of the sculpture you can judge for yourselves.


Post comments on this blog or email me:  truckshunters@googlemail.com


Hildie said...

I like Sue's cuttings from The Hereford Times ... I hope their stream turns up!
The Tree of Tenere - the living lighthouse - it's good it was replaced by the sculpture ... at least the memory of that stoic, little tree lives on.
It has remionded me pof our truckshunter gingko tree ...
we ought to make a pilgrimage soon.

Our quote opf the day ....
"Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit."
- Bern Williams.

Maybe Sue will send us some more news from Hereford, if we ask her nicely!

Ian Robinson said...

I'll ask her VERY nicely to send regular titbits Hildie.
Do our local papers here deal in such beautiful trivia? Do any truckshunters read them?

Sid said...

I know it's a problem with internet speed and things like that, but when I log on to this page sometimes the photo of Nigel Ely isn't there...it's just an empty space. How fitting for an ex SAS chap.
Each year when the caravan season starts there is always gossip to catch up on. Last season I suggested to the site owner that perhaps a monthly newsletter could be produced letting us know who was doing what with whom, it didn't go down well.

Sid said...

I had a close up look at our Ginkgo tree the other day Hildie. The new buds are already formed and just waiting for the spring. Like many other growing things they think it isn't that far away.

Ian Robinson said...

Thanks for keeping an eye on our ginkgo tree, Sid. I must get over there myself soon...